CITY COUNCIL FOLLIES

If the firm retained by Malibu to evaluate the city manager and city government, Management Partners, wanted an exemplification of the some of  the inherent local problems involved  it could have attended  the last meeting of the city council , or as I did view it on television.


However measured, either as an experienced hard edged professional or an empathetic local plebian, it was pathetic,  exposing as it did the council’s failed leadership and faulty thinking, and. particular galling, the city manager’s disingenuous maneuvers and disregard of the city’s past, and future.

At issue was the city manager Reva Feldman’s proposal of selling two prime acres of the recently purchased 9.6 acre Civic center site known variously as the chili cook-off site and more accurately as the “Ioki property,” a former flower and vegetable farm owned by an American  family of Japanese heritage that was shamefully seized in the hysteria of WW II.

The proposed sale to the L.A. Fire Department for a questionable location of a fire station and offices was placed on the agenda by the ever money-grubbing city manager, who prides herself  as a budget conscious bureaucrat  –except  of course when it comes to her bloated salary, hand-picked personnel, select consultants  and  travel budget for favored councilpersons.

Not incidentally, I trust that these items are being unearthed by the Management Partners team in its promised review of the city manager’s performance, consistent with the investigative maxim of “follow the money.” That as a relatively neophyte, first time city manager she is earning more than the State’s governor,  the mayor of Los Angeles and our Congressional representative  must raise some questions.

Though to be sure, it apparently didn’t bother her prime advocate on the council, former mayor Rick Mullen, who was found to be billing the public some $250,000 a year in overtime, according to a L.A Times expose, for literally sleeping on the job as a fire captain beyond his $150,000 annual salary.  Figuratively speaking, being on the public teat does make for some strange bedfellows. and sadly no apologies.

But thanks to an alert by the ever vigilant Mari Stanley and Bruce Silverstein, in the local social media, the agenda item prompted a diverse conscientious dozen residents to  attend the meeting Monday night.

All spoke in varying opposition and timbre to the sale, citing questionable appraisals, the lack of proper public outreach, the poor location for the facility, and the reneging of the site for recreation, a promise that dates back several decades when I did penance as a city Parks and Recreation Commissioner. The varied statements all added up to a cogent and convincing case for the rejection of the sale and a censure of the city manager.

But that was apparently too much to ask of a divided city council, several members who still seems obligated to the city manager for unspoken reasons,  and others who by their convoluted questions just do not seem particularly knowledgeable or sensitive to land use issues.  (Why is it the more they speak the less they seem to know about a subject.  “et cetera, et cetra,” to quote Mullen.

And ill judged as well as misguided was the praise by the ever amiable Mayor Wagner of the city manager’s debatable financial acumen and  concern for budgets.

As an aside, Feldman’s answer to a resident revealing that the former councilmember Laura Rosenthal might be the recipient of a $150,000 a year dubious position for a forged foundation was blithely  evasive, citing that the public funds was not the city’s but rather the county’s. as if this made it  acceptable.

Meanwhile, the council kept the proposal for the sale alive, kicking it to several suspect city commissions for presumably public hearings, and giving the city manager some wriggle room. 4.24.19

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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